Mark Lowe pitched a simulated game in Arizona this week, and the best thing about that might have been he didn’t have to lie about it the next day.
Lowe is one of those gifted young Mariners relievers, a high-90s guy who overwhelmed the AL in 15 games in 2006 by allowing just four runs in 18 2/3 innings. Then elbow surgery sidelined him most of last season.
When Lowe, 24, returned to the Mariners in August, that fastball was still there in the four games he pitched.
What frightened him and the team was how he felt the day after each of his four appearances.
"I couldn’t pick up the ball the next day," Lowe said.
Against that backdrop, then, Lowe was placed on the disabled list and sent to Arizona. There, for weeks, all he did was stretch his right arm.
He didn’t play catch. He didn’t lift weights.
"I didn’t do anything that would put pressure on my elbow," he said. "They wouldn’t let me."
This month, Lowe began throwing again. A few bullpens, each with a bit more intensity, then a simulated game. Lowe threw fastballs in the high 90s, hard, biting sliders.
"The day after, I felt great. No pain, no stiffness at all," Lowe said.
This week, the Mariners were told by team doctors that Lowe will have no restrictions in spring training – and that he’ll be ready from Day One to compete for a job in the Seattle bullpen.